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The 2012 Chinese Grand Prix (formally the 2012 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix)[2] was a Formula One motor race held on 15 April 2012 at the Shanghai International Circuit in Shanghai, China.[3] It was the ninth running of the Chinese Grand Prix as a round of the Formula One World Championship. The 56-lap race was the third round of the 2012 Formula One season.

2012 Chinese Grand Prix
Race 3 of 20 in the 2012 Formula One World Championship
Circuit Shanghai 2004 Infobox.svg
Race details
Date 15 April 2012
Official name 2012 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix
Location Shanghai International Circuit
Shanghai, People's Republic of China
Course Permanent racing facility
Course length 5.451 km (3.387 mi)
Distance 56 laps, 305.066 km (189.559 mi)

Overcast but Dry[1] Air Temp 22 °C (72 °F)[1]

Track Temp 23 °C (73 °F) [1]
Pole position
Driver Mercedes
Time 1:35.121
Fastest lap
Driver Japan Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari
Time 1:39.960 on lap 40
First Mercedes
Second McLaren-Mercedes
Third McLaren-Mercedes
Shanghai International Circuit

The race was won by German driver Nico Rosberg driving a Mercedes,[4] after he dominated the race to claim his debut Formula One victory and his first race win since leaving GP2 Series six years previously. Rosberg became the first German driver to win a Grand Prix driving a German car in Formula 1 history. The win was also the first win for an official Mercedes-Benz team since the 1955 Italian Grand Prix, after which Mercedes departed from Formula One for 55 seasons.[5] Rosberg led home the McLaren pair of Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton by over twenty seconds.[6] The race itself was characterised by intense battling throughout the field and by high reliability with 23 of 24 starters finishing the race. This race was also HRT's thirty-ninth race start, setting the record for most Grand Prix starts without scoring a single point.

This was the first race since the 2009 Italian Grand Prix that was not won by Red Bull, McLaren or Ferrari.



After extended debate over the legality of the Mercedes F1 W03's "front wing F-duct" design in Australia and Malaysia,[7][8] that ended with the FIA declaring the design to be legal,[7][9] Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner stated that his team was still seeking clarification on the matter, which he expected to be resolved in Shanghai,[10] despite having previously sought a "final ruling" in Malaysia.[11] On the Thursday before the race, Lotus F1 filed a formal protest against the front wing design, citing Article 3.15 of the technical regulations as the grounds for their challenge.[12] The stewards later unanimously rejected the protest[13] and Lotus has since confirmed that they will not appeal against decision.[14]

On the Thursday before the race, McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton was given a five-place grid penalty after the team was forced to change his car's gearbox for the race.[15]

The FIA confirmed that the Drag Reduction System (DRS) zone will be unchanged from 2011, with the detection point located at Turn 12 and the activation point positioned along the back straight.[16]

Like the Australian Grand Prix, tyre supplier Pirelli brought its white-banded medium compound tyre as the harder "prime" tyre and the yellow-banded soft compound tyre as the softer "option" tyre, whereas in 2011, the "prime" compound was the silver-banded hard compound tyre.[17]


Qualifying for the third race of the season began at 2 pm local time under cloudy and overcast conditions with an ambient temperature of 21 °C (70 °F) and a track temperature of 26 °C (79 °F) (significantly cooler than the previous Malaysia qualifying session). Prior to the start of Q1, Ferrari spoke with Sky Sports commentator Ted Kravitz and said "they need a miracle to get into Q3 today", highlighting just how far the team thought they were from the front runners.


The first session begun with Force India driver Paul di Resta posting the first timed lap of the session. Other drivers followed soon after; all on the harder medium 'prime' tyre. The difference between the medium and the soft compounds was predicted around 0.8 seconds per lap. Leaving their run late, eight minutes into the session both the Red Bull and Mercedes cars had yet to post timed laps. Sebastian Vettel's engineer was heard saying that the lap time he did of 1:36.9 would be good enough to make Q2, subsequently it was the 15th best time of the session. With Felipe Massa in 16th after his run on the prime tyre, he was among the first to switch to the grippier soft compound 'option' tyre. His teammate Fernando Alonso followed suit soon after. Surprisingly Jenson Button undertook a lap on the soft tyres during Q1 even though looking like comfortably progressing to Q2. At the end of the session, Jean-Éric Vergne, for the second consecutive race, failed to make Q2 and was 18th ahead of the usual eliminated cars. In fact, all the eliminated cars in Q1 were in identical positions from the Malaysian Q1 qualifying session. Caterham's Heikki Kovalainen led teammate Vitaly Petrov and Timo Glock led the Marussias, while at the rear were the HRTs of Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan.


For the second session, the two Saubers and Kimi Räikkönen were first to set timed laps. Romain Grosjean was late to post a lap as he made a mistake on his first attempt and pitted for a new set of option tyres. Vettel, in 6th midway through the session, was told on the radio that his current time would probably not make it into Q3. With less than 2 minutes remaining only the Mercedes (P1 and P2), Lewis Hamilton (P3) and Räikkönen (P4) remained in the pits, while everyone else scrambled to get into the top 10 for Q3. Vettel was in 7th as the chequered flag fell, however, many cars were still on flying 'hot laps'. Sergio Pérez jumped into Q3 as did Grosjean from P17 (only needing one timed lap). In a huge shock, Vettel who was on pole for the last three consecutive Chinese Grands Prix failed to make Q3. On his final lap, he only improved his time by 0.003 of a second. It was the first time since the 2009 Brazilian Grand Prix (where he qualified 16th) that Vettel failed to make the top 10 (and hence the final Q3 session). This brought his streak of 41 consecutive qualifying sessions to make the top 10 to an end. It was also in the same race in 2011 that Mark Webber failed to make Q3 hence the first time in 18 races where a Red Bull has failed to make the top 10. Following Vettel in 11th was Massa in 12th (the same as Malaysia) and the two Williams cars of Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna who were within 0.006 seconds of each other. In 15th and 16th were the two Force India cars led by di Resta, while Australian Daniel Ricciardo was last in the session in a clearly uncompetitive Toro Rosso.


For the final session, the track was cooling down and German Nico Rosberg was told to think about that in his warm up lap. He was the first to set a timed lap early on with six minutes remaining in the session. The top speed of his car down the long back straight was only 314kph as he hit the 7th gear rev-limiter meaning that Mercedes cars didn't have the highest top speed but rather made up time through a better acceleration through the f-duct system as he was one of the quickest past the start/finish line speed trap. Rosberg posted a 1:35.121 which was by far the fastest time of the weekend so far. Teammate Michael Schumacher was half a second slower than Rosberg, as was Hamilton, further highlighting how good Rosberg's lap was. Schumacher on his radio was told Rosberg's lap time and in reply said "not bad". After seeing Webber more than a second off his fastest lap time, Rosberg got out of his car with just under two minutes still left in the session. After confidently leaving his Mercedes, Rosberg watched everyone else fall short of his time and claimed his first pole position of his 111-race career. Following him was Hamilton half a second off (who lined up 7th on the grid after a gearbox change incurred a 5 place grid penalty) and teammate Schumacher in 3rd. Kamui Kobayashi qualified 4th fastest in his best ever qualifying result of his Formula One career to date. His previous best qualifying result was 7th in his home race at the 2011 Japanese Grand Prix. Räikkönen, like in Malaysia, posted the 5th quickest time while Button was more than a second from Rosberg's time in 6th. Webber, in the Red Bull, was 7th while Pérez, in the second Sauber, was an impressive 8th with - like his teammate - his best ever qualifying result in his Formula One career to date. His previous best was a 9th in the 2011 Belgian Grand Prix. Alonso, like Räikkönen, was in the same position as the Malaysia qualifying session and lined up on the grid in 9th, while Grojean in the second Lotus didn't complete a timed lap and hence was 10th. In another milestone, it was the first time that both Saubers had qualified in the top 10 since the 2009 season when team were known as BMW Sauber.

After qualifying, Jean-Éric Vergne made changes to his car before the race, leading to him starting the race in pit lane.[18]


In contrast to the previous Malaysian Grand Prix, the race began under mild cloudy conditions with an ambient temperature of 22 °C (72 °F) and a track temperature of 24 °C (75 °F). Massa, Senna, and the two Toro Rossos started on the medium tyre while everybody else had the soft yellow banded tyre fitted for the start. The Rosberg-led Mercedes cars led as they lined up on the grid into turn 1 with relative ease, while behind them Kobayashi starting in P3 was down to 6th by the fourth corner. Button started well and took sixth ahead of Räikkönen in an almost incident-free first lap. Only minor contact was made at the first turn as Bruno Senna ran into the back of Massa's Ferrari slightly damaging his front wing in the process. Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso yet again raced side-by-side and passed each other three times throughout the first lap - Webber, making a poor start, was scrapping for 9th behind Alonso by lap 5. By the time the DRS was enabled (lap 3) the two leading Mercedes were more than one second ahead of their rivals and therefore out of range from DRS attack from cars behind. By lap 6, Vettel was struggling with straight line speed in 14th position and was 19th fastest through the speed trap, complaining to his engineer via radio. On lap 7, Webber made a strategical early pit stop to change to medium tyres and immediately set a fastest lap time. This prompted a flurry of pit stops by the other drivers. Hamilton and Räikkönen pitted and came out side-by-side. However, Hamilton had his nose in front, allowing him to rejoin ahead of Räikkönen. Mark Webber slotted in between in Hamilton and Räikkönen, leaving Räikkönen the loser during the pit stop phase.

Michael Schumacher was forced to retire after a miscommunication resulted in him leaving the pit lane before his right front wheel was properly fitted.[19] The wheel-gun man knew he made an error and immediately tried to call Schumacher back, but it was too late. He was subsequently the only retirement of the race, leaving Mercedes to ponder what could have been at least a podium finish. On lap 14, pole sitter and leader Rosberg pitted for mediums tyres leaving an unpitted Pérez in the lead.

Following the pit stops, Nico Rosberg once again emerged as the leader, followed by Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, and Kimi Räikkönen. Lap 21 saw everyone in their adjusted positions after everyone had completed one pit stop. On lap 22, Webber stopped for fresh medium tyres, and set a new fastest lap upon emerging. Button and Hamilton followed suit soon after. Räikkönen pitted from 2nd on lap 29, dropping him down to 13th. At this stage of the race, Jenson Button had great pace and was quickly catching the cars ahead who had only stopped once (Pérez, Vettel, Grosjean, and the leading Rosberg). On lap 30, Rob Smedley was heard telling Felipe Massa, "Fernando on a different strategy", essentially telling him to let his teammate through for 10th place at the time. Soon after Alonso moved ahead of di Resta, justifying Ferrari's radio call to Massa. At this stage it was clear that Rosberg, Vettel, and Räikkönen were on two-stop strategies while Button, Hamilton and Webber were on track for three stops. Pérez was third on lap 35, but under huge pressure from Lewis Hamilton and was locking up his front tyres heavily while defending into the hairpin, turn 14.

Rosberg, having continued running on his hard tyres for 21 laps, finally decided to pit on lap 34 for his second and final stop - meaning he would need 22 laps from this set of medium tyres. This allowed Button to take the lead, followed by Rosberg and Hamilton, who was closely pressed by Alonso for third. At this stage of the race, a 'train' of cars started to form (seen clearly down the back straight). From Massa in 5th, who had only stopped once, the next three cars all had their DRS open, meaning they were all within one second of each other and it appeared Massa was fast enough not to be overtaken, but slow enough to keep everyone bunched up behind him. Replays were shown of Mark Webber, prior to the long DRS back straight, going wide and hitting a bump to ascend both his front tyres off the ground by half a metre. Luckily, he handed the car without damaging the suspension of front wing allowing him to only lose a second of lap time.

The train continued to grow by lap 38 as Grosjean in 10th joined Massa, Räikkönen, Kobayshi, and Vettel in the battle for 5th. Jenson Button asked his engineer "what time is Rosberg doing?", to which his engineer replied "Rosberg is seven tenths slower than us". However, this was before Rosberg pitted for new tyres, and now Rosberg was six tenths a lap up on Button.

Lap 38 saw Hamilton pit from 3rd, closely followed in by Alonso, dropping them to 10th and 11th respectively. Button's final pit stop while 7 seconds ahead, on lap 39, was delayed due to an error on the left rear wheel and allowed Rosberg back into the lead. Following Button's pit stop, Rosberg now led Massa by 19.1 seconds in clear command and within sight of victory as highlighted by his engineer saying "most important thing is your looking after the tyres". Finally Massa pitted from second place, but he now released a Räikkönen-led train of cars. On lap 43, eleven cars could be seen from one end to the other of the long back DRS straight. Alonso went wide on turn 7 onto the discarded tyre marbles while trying to overtake Maldonado and nearly collected the Sauber of Sergio Pérez on the way back onto track. Grosjean who was a part of the train went wide in turn 7 (like Alonso) and lost grip on tyre marbles while trying to overtake Vettel, consequently losing some positions. By lap 49 Räikkönen's tyres appeared to hit the 'cliff' and lose effective tyre performance. In the space of 2 laps Räikkönen went from 2nd to 12th.

The 'train', which was started by Massa and continued by Räikkönen, led to 2nd to 14th positions being separated by just 15 seconds (rare to see so late in a race without a safety car). With 5 laps remaining, Rosberg had a 20+ second lead while Vettel, in 2nd, finally succumbed to the 3-stopped Button. Vettel, who had gone with a two-stop strategy, was now struggling like Räikkönen a few laps earlier. Hamilton and Webber were right on his rear wing now and it was only a matter of time before he dropped back. On lap 54, Hamilton took 3rd position from Vettel at the hairpin and a lap later, Mark Webber did the same for 4th.

Lewis Hamilton fighting Sebastian Vettel for position

On crossing the chequered flag, Nico Rosberg won his first ever Formula One grand prix from 111 races. He was the 103rd different winner of a Formula One grand prix since 1950, and the 12th different Mercedes powered winner in Formula One. Button finished 20 seconds adrift in 2nd after a pit stop error robbed what little chance he may have had at taking victory (although unlikely given Rosberg's pace and the difficulty seen when overtaking on this track). Locking out an all Mercedes-powered podium was Hamilton, followed by Red Bull's Mark Webber in 4th. Both Hamilton and Webber have now finished 3rd and 4th respectively for all of the three grands prix this season. Webber's Red Bull teammate, Sebastian Vettel, finished 5th on worn tyres and Romain Grosjean finished 6th in his best ever result in a Formula One race. The Williams cars showed good race pace and earned solid points with Senna in 7th and Maldonado in 8th. Ferrari continued their struggle in dry conditions, with Alonso finishing 9th and teammate Massa in 13th. Kamui Kobayashi took the final point in 10th ahead of teammate Pérez in a disappointing grand prix for the Sauber team after having such a great qualifying performance. Of note was 2007 world champion Kimi Räikkönen who finished a disappointing 14th after his tyres were too worn. Also, of note was the fact that 17 drivers completed the race on the lead lap, with Daniel Ricciardo in 17th just over one minute behind the leader in a highly uncompetitive Toro Rosso (teammate Vergne was 16th). This race was the first win for the Brackley-based Mercedes GP team since the 2009 Italian Grand Prix when Rubens Barrichello won when the team was known as Brawn GP.

Support eventsEdit

The event took place between the 12–15 April where throughout the weekend there were support events. Taking part in the Chinese Grand Prix program was the Porsche Carrera Cup Asia with 2 races.[20]



Pos. No. Driver Constructor Part 1 Part 2 Part 3 Grid
1 8   Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:36.875 1:35.725 1:35.121 1
2 4   Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.763 1:35.902 1:35.626 71
3 7   Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1:36.797 1:35.794 1:35.691 2
4 14   Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.863 1:35.853 1:35.784 3
5 9   Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:36.850 1:35.921 1:35.898 4
6 3   Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:36.746 1:35.942 1:36.191 5
7 2   Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:36.682 1:35.700 1:36.290 6
8 15   Sergio Pérez Sauber-Ferrari 1:36.198 1:35.831 1:36.524 8
9 5   Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:36.292 1:35.982 1:36.622 9
10 10   Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:36.343 1:35.903 no time 10
11 1   Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:36.911 1:36.031 11
12 6   Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:36.556 1:36.255 12
13 18   Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:36.528 1:36.283 13
14 19   Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1:36.674 1:36.289 14
15 11   Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:36.639 1:36.317 15
16 12   Nico Hülkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1:36.921 1:36.745 16
17 16   Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:36.933 1:36.956 17
18 17   Jean-Éric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:37.714 242
19 20   Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1:38.463 18
20 21   Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1:38.677 19
21 24   Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1:39.282 20
22 25   Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1:39.717 21
23 22   Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1:40.411 22
24 23   Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1:41.000 23
107% time: 1:42.931
^1 — Lewis Hamilton was given a five-place grid penalty for a gearbox change prior to the weekend.[15]
^2 — Jean Eric Vergne started from pit lane after his team carried out various changes to his car, contravening parc ferme regulations.[22]


Pos. No. Driver Constructor Laps Time/Retired Grid Points
1 8   Nico Rosberg Mercedes 56 1:36.26.929 1 25
2 3   Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 56 +20.626 5 18
3 4   Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 56 +26.012 7 15
4 2   Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 56 +27.924 6 12
5 1   Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 56 +30.483 11 10
6 10   Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 56 +31.491 10 8
7 19   Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 56 +34.597 14 6
8 18   Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 56 +35.643 13 4
9 5   Fernando Alonso Ferrari 56 +37.256 9 2
10 14   Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 56 +38.720 3 1
11 15   Sergio Pérez Sauber-Ferrari 56 +41.066 8
12 11   Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 56 +42.273 15
13 6   Felipe Massa Ferrari 56 +42.779 12
14 9   Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 56 +50.573 4
15 12   Nico Hülkenberg Force India-Mercedes 56 +51.213 16
16 17   Jean-Éric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 56 +51.756 24
17 16   Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 56 +1:03.156 17
18 21   Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 55 +1 Lap 19
19 24   Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 55 +1 Lap 20
20 25   Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 55 +1 Lap 21
21 22   Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 55 +1 Lap 22
22 23   Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 54 +2 Laps 23
23 20   Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 53 +3 Laps 18
Ret 7   Michael Schumacher Mercedes 12 Wheel 2

Championship standings after the raceEdit

  • Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.


  1. ^ a b c "2012 FORMULA 1 UBS CHINESE GRAND PRIX (Race)". Formula One Administration. 15 April 2012. Retrieved 18 March 2013.[dead link]
  2. ^ "2012 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix". Formula One. Archived from the original on 16 March 2012. Retrieved 22 March 2012.
  3. ^ Collantine, Keith (7 December 2011). "United States Grand Prix remains on unchanged 2012 F1 calendar". F1 Fanatic. Keith Collantine. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
  4. ^ Benson, Andrew (15 April 2012). "Dominant Nico Rosberg wins Chinese Grand Prix". BBC Sport. BBC. Archived from the original on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  5. ^ "Nico Rosberg breezes to China win". ESPN. Associated Press. 15 April 2012. Archived from the original on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 17 April 2012.
  6. ^ Cass, Simon (15 April 2012). "Rosberg stuns field in fight to the finish". Daily Mail. Associated Newspapers. Archived from the original on 19 April 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  7. ^ Noble, Jonathan (17 March 2012). "FIA asked to re-think its view on the Mercedes DRS-activated F-duct". Autosport. Haymarket Publications. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
  8. ^ Noble, Jonathan (22 March 2012). "FIA rejects claims that Mercedes's rear wing is illegal". Autosport. Haymarket Publications. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
  9. ^ Noble, Jonathan (2 April 2012). "Red Bull still seeking clarification about the legality of Mercedes's rear wing". Autosport. Haymarket Publications. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
  10. ^ Noble, Jonathan; Freeman, Glenn (19 March 2012). "Red Bull, Lotus seek final ruling on Mercedes' rear wing ahead of Malaysian Grand Prix weekend". Autosport. Haymarket Publications. Retrieved 3 April 2012.
  11. ^ "Lotus files protest against Mercedes's rear wing". Autosport. Haymarket Publications. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  12. ^ Elizalde, Pablo (12 April 2012). "Lotus protest against Mercedes wing rejected by FIA". Autosport. Haymarket Publications. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  13. ^ Noble, Jonathan "Lotus will not appeal stewards' decision on Mercedes rear wing" Autosport. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 2012-04-16
  14. ^ a b Collantine, Keith (12 April 2012). "Hamilton to take five-place grid penalty in China". F1 Fanatic. Keith Collantine. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  15. ^ Elizalde, Pablo (12 April 2012). "FIA confirms DRS zone for the Chinese Grand Prix". Autosport. Haymarket Publications. Retrieved 12 April 2012.
  16. ^ "Pirelli reveal tyre choices for opening three rounds". Formula One. 15 February 2012. Archived from the original on 18 April 2012. Retrieved 19 April 2012.
  17. ^ "2012 FORMULA 1 UBS CHINESE GRAND PRIX Provisional Results". Formula One. 14 April 2012. Archived from the original on 16 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  18. ^ "BBC live coverage". BBC. 15 April 2012. Archived from the original on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  19. ^ "2012 FORMULA 1 UBS CHINESE GRAND PRIX Event Timetable". Formula One. Archived from the original on 28 March 2012. Retrieved 16 April 2012.
  20. ^ "2012 Chinese Grand Prix — Qualifying Session Official Classification" (PDF). Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile. Archived from the original (PDF) on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  21. ^ Noble, Jonathan (15 April 2012). "Toro Rosso's Jean-Eric Vergne to start Chinese Grand Prix from pitlane". Autosport. Haymarket Publications. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  22. ^ "2012 FORMULA 1 UBS CHINESE GRAND PRIX Race Results". Formula One. 15 April 2012. Archived from the original on 17 April 2012. Retrieved 15 April 2012.
  23. ^ a b "China 2012 - Championship • STATS F1". Retrieved 15 March 2019.

External linksEdit